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Old 24.11.2019, 17:54
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Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Hey,

Just registered for this very "issue" :

Me (native Swiss) and my Girlfriend Polish raising a Baby here in Switzerland. Problem is that we speak English with each other. We told ourselves to speak German since our Baby needs to learn it anyway but reality a bit gave us a hard time. It's our first Baby and it's very stressful. In the head of the moment we need to communicate fast and the only way for that is English. My girlfriend can't speak German and so it's very difficult and slow to communicate. If our Baby is puking herself or XY and me or my girlfriend needs help, it needs to be done fast and our plan for using German went down the toilet.

I'm thinking about just talking Swiss German with my Baby because using Hochdeutsch is a pain for me. I need to think before I speak and the same with using English. My girlfriend speaks Polish to our Baby which is fine. What are other parents doing in similar situations? Would love to hear advice/experience from others.

I read for a Baby more than 2 languages isn't healthy.

Good Sunday greetings
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Old 24.11.2019, 18:09
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

For me, the least stressful solution was for each parent to speak their own mother tongue with the baby and the we speak English together. Or German. Or whatever comes to mind in the circumstances/whose company you are in.

Don’t sweat it, kids are comfortable with whatever.

There’s a load of crap in among nuggets of useful advice written about what kids should speak and how many languages. Every kid is different and I’m always amazed at how resilient and adaptable they are.

Last edited by Sandgrounder; 24.11.2019 at 18:23.
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Old 24.11.2019, 18:18
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

There will be others that come along with much longer pedagogically documented insights/opinions - I have a lot of that in my background as well, however my intuitive response is do what feels best. If both of you can be disciplined in each speaking to your baby in your mother tongue, and to each other in English (it seems that is your ‘emotional” language) the baby will be absorbing the sounds and the contextual tones relative to the different languages. Their are reems of linguistic/scientific studies should you be interested.

My partner and I have different native languages, speak English with one another, both spoke to our children in our mother tongue, enhanced by adding vocabulary relevant to different places we have lived where neither of our languages are native. When a child reaches school age there may be an adjustment necessary to ensure they are keeping their verbal lexicons in order for the purposes of writing/reading, but I wouldn’t overthink it now. Enjoy your baby!
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Old 24.11.2019, 18:23
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

In my extended family, there is one case, where four languages are going on, though the country language will take priority, especially with play groups/ school.



Important thing baby will pick up is the love.
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Old 24.11.2019, 18:31
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Hi LenaQueen


No problem, from our experience the little one will pick up and start to communicate in many languages. Also remember "Grandma's and Granddad's" who all love babies, and may not speak another language. It is good if the baby can talk with them ( and also near family ) on family visits.


My mother thought that our little one was a bit slow .... until it was pointed out that, well you have asked a question to the baby in English, but would you like the answer in Swiss German, Finnish or English ?? Kids can switch very well, but need to associate the 'face' with the answer language.


Don't stop speaking any mother tongue with the baby.


Have fun, there's many more little problems to overcome .-)
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Old 24.11.2019, 19:26
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

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Don't stop speaking any mother tongue with the baby.
That.
My partner and his brothers were raised with 3 languages and still speak them all now in their 50s and 60s.
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Old 24.11.2019, 19:35
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Thanks a lot.

You guys made my Sunday. I feel the most comfortable to speak Swiss German with my little daughter and English to my Girlfriend. I just want to do everything right and yes, we give our Baby a lot of love.

I guess a lot of Pädagogik expert would say it's bad to speak more than X languages but to be honest, the new age stuff isn't producing any good children anyway. All I see are problem children cause people are overprotective but that's another topic.

Again, thank you a lot for anyone that replied.
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Old 24.11.2019, 20:05
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

I didn't have kids so can only speak as an observer, but what I have seen is that one of the greatest advantages you can give a child is a natural, effortless ability with a second or third language. It opens so many doors for them.
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Old 24.11.2019, 20:46
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Since birth, my wife has spoken to our daughters in Polish, as do their grandparents.

I speak with them in English. They hate it when I try to speak French.

They fight with each other in French.

None of it was a strategic plan on our part.

It’s the reason they speak all three languages fluently. And, the reason why they’re both enjoying studying German and Italian.
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Old 24.11.2019, 20:52
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

We're speaking French and English to our kid. We figure he can learn German on his own since he's growing up in a German-speaking area.
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Old 24.11.2019, 21:11
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Always speak your native language with your child, even if that means there are three languages in the house. The kid will be fine, even better off, and whomever told you three languages was bad for a kid didn't know what they were talking about.
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Old 24.11.2019, 21:26
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

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Hey,

Just registered for this very "issue" :

Me (native Swiss) and my Girlfriend Polish raising a Baby here in Switzerland. Problem is that we speak English with each other. We told ourselves to speak German since our Baby needs to learn it anyway but reality a bit gave us a hard time. It's our first Baby and it's very stressful. In the head of the moment we need to communicate fast and the only way for that is English. My girlfriend can't speak German and so it's very difficult and slow to communicate. If our Baby is puking herself or XY and me or my girlfriend needs help, it needs to be done fast and our plan for using German went down the toilet.

I'm thinking about just talking Swiss German with my Baby because using Hochdeutsch is a pain for me. I need to think before I speak and the same with using English. My girlfriend speaks Polish to our Baby which is fine. What are other parents doing in similar situations? Would love to hear advice/experience from others.

I read for a Baby more than 2 languages isn't healthy.

Good Sunday greetings
Don't sweat it, your kid will figure it out. It may take a little longer than normal, but she will figure it.

My kids are grown up now, but as kids from day one, they had two dialects (Zurich & Bern), High German and English to deal with and it was no problem. Today they don't really care which language they use, it's more a case of which language you prefer.
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Old 24.11.2019, 23:27
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

You speak to baby in your native tongue. Your partner speaks in her native tongue. You speak to each other in English. Under no circumstances speak to baby in a language that you are not 100% totally fluent and correct in.

Your child will pick up 3 languages without difficulty.

My son is English. My daughter in law is Swiss. He talks to their son in English, she in her dialect. When they visit her parents, they speak a mixture of dialect and high German. With us, they speak English. To each other they speak mostly English.

Don't sweat it. What's needed is that the child hears a language spoken as it should be. If you try to speak a language you're not comfortable with, they'll be uncomfortable as well.
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Old 24.11.2019, 23:33
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

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My mother thought that our little one was a bit slow .... until it was pointed out that, well you have asked a question to the baby in English, but would you like the answer in Swiss German, Finnish or English ??
We came from the UK when our youngest was 4. At kindergarten she was referred to a speech therapist, who told us she was concerned about our daughter's German vocabulary being a bit small. My wife, trained as an early-years primary teacher in the UK (i.e 4-5 year olds), said - sure, but maybe you should look at her vocabulary in English and German.

To the credit of the therapist, she did. "Oh - the combined vocabulary is much bigger than would be expected of a child this age. She's not below normal - she's quite a way above".

btw: Today Only given a groan to the OP indicates he's an idiot.
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Old 24.11.2019, 23:36
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

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Under no circumstances speak to baby in a language that you are not 100% totally fluent and correct in.
....
What's needed is that the child hears a language spoken as it should be. If you try to speak a language you're not comfortable with, they'll be uncomfortable as well.
Yes, exactly! If you speak a language in which you make errors, or in which your vocabulary is weak, your child will learn those errors and weaknesses, too. Each parent should speak his/her mother-tongue with the children.

In your mother-tongue, you'll be able to give your child much richer forms of expression, and differentiated thought. You (and therefore the child) will be much more likely to be able to say not just "walk" but hobble, shuffle, and hop, not just "eat" but nibble, gobble and chew, not just "tools" but spanner, pliers and side-cutters, not just "green" but emerald, olive and lime.
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Old 25.11.2019, 00:03
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

I have heard of a few different opinions on this subject and each person that was sharing it thought their solution was the best one, because they read somewhere and they trusted the author(s) of said studies.
Instinctively or intuitively, I chose to use my mother tongue because there's no way I can teach my children other language than that. Yes, I speak a few foreign languages at a comfortable/fluent level, but wouldn't think in a million years to teach them to my kids. I respect languages and I'm quite aware of my shortcomings in each of them. I can help kids with their homeworks for school, but would like them to hear and learn those languages from native speakers (too).
The best language you can speak to your child is your mother tongue, seriously. He'll get all the notions and concepts right, the nuances, the language registers, the complex vocabulary, the creativity, it will be a lot of fun and a wonderful adventure together, especially when they start talking in a second or third one and will amaze you with the connections they make and their impeccable pronunciations that most of us have only in our native language.
Even if at one point there will be more than two languages in your family, it's all worth it. I am pretty confident they'll thank us later. Enjoy this wonderful adventure and don't worry for the child - she'll be like a fish in water! Worry for you, you'll be the one who needs to catch up! ;-)
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Old 25.11.2019, 02:04
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

Hi!

We had the same issue - me native Italian and my husband native German, English is our "couple" language.

We always each spoke to each other in English. I to the children in Italian and he to the children in German.

With time, they started understanding English, I picked up a good understanding of German and my husband of Italian - the aim is to get to a point where each of you can at least understand basic instructions that are being given to the child so that you don't contradict each other.

The children now speak all 3 fluently but having gone to school in Zurich also added Swiss German dialect. German is definitely the language they are best at as they can read, speak and write all very well. They cannot write Italian very well but that is ok for us as main aim was to have a relationship with their home country and family back home.

It will all work out well!

K
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Old 25.11.2019, 10:03
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

From personal experience, it's just best to agree with your partner what languages you eventually want your kids to have (for exchange with relatives, holidays) and then decide who talks that one (one or both parents), in addition to what they will get from the local country anyway.

With regards to the number of language, again from personal experience 2 languages is easy peasy as a kid... most can easily manage a third.

And trying to learn anything 40 years later is a complete nightmare IMO
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Old 25.11.2019, 10:19
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

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From personal experience, it's just best to agree with your partner what languages you eventually want your kids to have (for exchange with relatives, holidays) and then decide who talks that one (one or both parents), in addition to what they will get from the local country anyway.

With regards to the number of language, again from personal experience 2 languages is easy peasy as a kid... most can easily manage a third.

And trying to learn anything 40 years later is a complete nightmare IMO
yup. i've been impressed with several kids i've seen here being able to speak many languages fluently at a young age: english/french/german/ch-german; english/norwegian/german
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Old 25.11.2019, 12:48
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Re: Baby - Multilingual household how to handle

please please please don't stop your girlfriend speaking Polish to her child. It is her mother-tongue, her 'heart language' and the connection to her extended family and heritage. How does she feel about that ?



and please please please do speak Swiss-German, if that is your heart language... and speak it deep and rich.


As for speaking English to one another, that's fine...and you can always switch or emphasise a particular language later on - we are never finished learning language, even in old age!


My kids learnt German 100% from school. Seriously, from age 6 and 9. They had exceptional mother tongue-English (well, as one would expect from a family full of teachers and early childhood professionals). But they layered on the other languages as needed. And because their foundation was strong in their mother-tongue, the other languages layer on top.



Where they have 'trouble' is matching `german to french' and french to german. Because in their brains they go English-German or English-French... which causes absolutely no problem with listening and speaking, but a lot of trouble with vocabulary lists when taught at school where it is matched just German and French together.
Now, if the test was Englsh-German-French vocabulary matching, they would probably get double most of the other students grades...



Hope that makes sense. And any early childhood 'professional' that discourages you from having your child eposed to a language rich environment in multiple languages, is not very well trained. Switzerland is the land of 4 languages... and I know children who do have learning difficulties and language delays who speak four languages - the language delay exists in all languages, but it's no reason to focus on just one language and exclude the others - it might just be that when it comes to reading and writing, you focus on one language for a while - we did this for our third child, who has diagnosed dyslexia, which is a reading-decoding problem, and from age 8-9 the school agreed to focus mostly on English reading, with less pressure on German, as English is his preferred language, and then once that was going well, to encourage more and more German reading. This strategy works well and he's reading all three languages (English, German and French) with fluency now...
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